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Rastafarianism and Their Symbols

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A brief introduction on Rastafarianism

The Rastafarian religion was originated in Africa it is not just a religion, but away of life. Rastafarians speak out against poverty, oppression and inequality, not just religion ideas but global problems. For many years Rastafarian continues to grow against the tide of official and social approbation. The early elders were charged with sedition and locked up, while others were declared insane placed in the Jamaican equivalent of Bedlam. Even though
Rasta was the poorest and the lowest of all they were secure with great knowledge. This religion is more than a religious gathering, however, since Rasta does not compartmentalize life into spiritual and non-spiritual periods it is an integrated way of living and of thinking of what goes beyond most definitions of religion. In 1933-1934 there was a Rastafarian movement. This movement was led by Haile

Selassie I whose previous name was Rastafari Makonnen before he was crowned Emperor under

the name of Haile Selassie I in October 1930. During this movement the Rastafarian take the bible as its sacred text, but interprets it in an Afro-centric because they want to reverse the changes that the “White” that made. The Rastafarian movement was closely linked to the ancient history of the Ethiopian civilization and largely based on the identification which Blacks have made with Ethiopia by virtue of biblical symbolism. In Ethiopia, Haile Selassie was given the title “Lion of the tribe of Judah ", which explains why there is a lion on the Rasta flag. He was also given the title “King of Kings and Lord of Lords ". Even though Haile Selassie I was seem as the leader of Rastafarianism but he is not a Rastafarian himself, he was a devout Christian.
The Rastafarians respect him a lot; even when a group of Rasta’s went to Ethiopia to honor him they were sent away by the official of the palace. This did not make the Rasta’s question their belief, it only make them stronger. Haile Selassie I died in 1975, but his death was not accepted by the Rastafarian they believe that it was a trick by the media who was trying to bring their faith down but still they believe that he will one day return in perfect flash and body to lead the people of African origin to the promise land

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Rastafarians also looked up to Marcus Garvey, the Jamaican socialist, whose

philosophies they believed could help open the way to a new world order. Marcus Garvey also

help with the Rastafarians movement, which was greatly inspired by his teaching. Bob Marley

also helps with the movement; thanks to him, the Rastafarian movement spread around the

globe, through his reggae star’s lyrics which were full of Rasta doctrine and which encapsulated

the spirit of the movement. In addition to Bob Marley, other Rasta symbols include dreadlocks

and the smoking cannabis are not worn by all Rastafarians, even though the movement believes

that hairstyle is supported in the bible. Today there are thought to be more than one million

Rastafarians around the world, some live in communes, which double as temples, where the

Bible is studied and prayers are offered. However, Rastafarianism has never been a highly

organized religion, and many Rasta’s see it more than a culture and a religion or way of life.

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Origin of symbols Each Rastafarian symbols are originated from somewhere. The “Dreadlocks”, Rasta’s loyalty symbol comes from Kenya when there was an Independence struggle in the country. The
“Lion of Judah” comes from the bible’s book of Genesis, so as you can see “Lion of Judah” was originated from the bible. Ganja was originated in East Indian but come to Jamaica in the 1800s when the work of slavery ended. Both the Rasta current and original flag come from the
Ethiopia. The current flag comes from an old Ethiopian flag during the reign of Haile Selassie and the original flag. The last Rasta symbol “The Star of David” comes from the Jewish back ground and also the Rasta’s back ground. No one is quite sure how it comes in both religion but it symbolize the lineage between Haile Selassie and King Solomon.

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Symbols and there meaning
Original Rasta Flag The original flag of Rastafarians was Red, Black and Green. The red represented the blood of blacks that died in struggle to fight off the white oppressors. The black represented the color of black Africans skin, and the green represented the vegetation of Jamaica and Jah's (God) earth.
Current Rasta Flag The current flag is the old Ethiopian flag with the Lion of Judah symbol; the lion of Judah represent Haile Selassie. The colors of the flag stand for something Rasta believes in: the red stands for the blood that bleeds to the earth and replenishes the land and help to grow ganja. Green stands for the vegetation of Africa and the Gold stands for the prosperity Africa. It also represents the sun which gives life to all.
Ganja (Marijuana) Ganja is considered the "wisdom weed" by Rastafarians, as it is use to helps one to gain wisdom. Rastafarians use it as a part of a religious rite and as a means of getting closer to their inner spiritual self, Jah (God) and Creation. Rasta’s also see Ganja as an “herb of life”.

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Dreadlocks
“Dreadlocks” is seem as Rasta’s loyalty symbol. Rasta grew their hair in dreadlocks to draw distinction from the thin hair of the oppressors and to accept personal beauty. The deadlocks symbolize the mane of the lion of Judah and also the spiritual and mental journey that patience. It is believed that it is patience that allows for the hair to grow naturally without the use of cutting, combing, or washing with anything except pour water.
Lion of Judah The Lion of Judah comes from the Bible’s book of Genesis. In Rastafarian Haile Selassie is therefore the “Lion of Judah”. In addition to the biblical significance of the lion, it also represent the struggle and the strength that Rasta’s endured at the hand of their oppressor.
The word Jah A lot of people believe that the word” Jah” is derive from the word Jehovah but that is not true. The word Jah is from the King James Bible as another name for God like Elohim, El Shaddai and other names.
Star of David The Star of David represents the relationship between King David and Haile Selassie I. it also represents the relationship that we all have with JAH. The triangles pointing up are our work for JAH and then in return an equal triangle pointing down to us from JAH. Pg.9
Interpretation of Data A total of five questions were giving to a maximum of 20 persons to answer by the researcher, this is to see what persons think about Rastafarianism and their symbols. The answers that I received from my community for question 1 revealed that, 30% of the resident claimed to said NO because of what the religion does not like to eat like meat (pork) and a lot of people love to eat meat. They also wouldn’t practice the religion because of what they believe in. The religion doesn’t believe in the Lord Jesus Christ they believe in Haile Selassie. The 70% percent revealed that some of the resident claimed to say YES because the way how the Rastafarian lives and how they dress. These resident said that they would practice this religion because of how Rastafarians live, how they grow their hair without cutting it combing it and wash it with only pour water no chemicals is added. The answers that I receive for question two(2) revealed that 85% of the resident said YES, while the other 15% of the resident claimed to say NO. The 85% of the resident in my community says that the symbols represent the religion well because each of the symbols has a meaning to the religion on the other hand the 15% of the resident claimed to say NO because they don’t believe that the Star of David should be classify of one of the symbols in Rastafarianism; the reason for this, the Star of David is a part of the Judaism religion and it showed a better purpose there. The residents were also asked if they think Bob Marley helps with the movement the response was 100%YES. Their reason for saying this is because of Bob Marley lyrics of his music; and he was a famous Rastafarian artist. Others said he cherish the symbols and always
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sing songs about the symbols. Resident were even ask if they think Rastafarianism should be classify as one of the major religion; their response to this question was 5% said YES and 95% said NO. The 5% claim to say that some of the resident think that Rastafarianism must be classify as a major religion because they think that this religion helps people to stand up for there right and famous people like Bob Marley and Marcus Garvey helps to inspired the religion and turning it into what it is in today. Some resident said yes because of how Rasta’s stay away from chemical products (for example their hair) while the 95% said NO because Rastafarianism seems to be small religion that is only in Jamaica and Africa. Some of the other residents even say that Rastafarianism is like a sub-religion meanwhile others question their selves asking “how can Haile Selassie be the leader of this religion yet he is a Christian”. The last question was given which ask “Rastafarian believes that Haile Selassie will one day return and lead them to Africa origin to the promise land. Do you believe in such taught”?
The result was 10%YES and 90%NO. The resident that said yes was mainly Rasta’s, their reasons for saying this is because of what they believe in and that Haile Selassie mention that before he died. The 90% revealed that the other resident NO because they don’t believe in such taught and it’s just a myth. Others say that Haile Selassie is a human like us and the only person who is going to return is Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

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Analysis of Data
Pie Chart
FIDG.1. Pie chart showing the percentage of people who answer to question 1

The following information gathered revealed the number of persons who will practice this religion. The data indicate that the 30% of respondents said NO and 70% of the respondents said YES.

Pg.11
FIG2.Pie chart showing the percentage of people who answer to question 2

The following information gathered revealed the number of persons who answer “YES” or “NO” to the question “if they think that the symbols of Rastafarianism represents the religion well” . The data indicate that the 15% of respondents said NO and 85% of the respondents said YES.

Pg.12
Doughnut Chart
FIG3. Doughnut chart showing the answers to question 3.

The following information gathered has revealed to the question “Do you think Bob Marley helps with the movement of Rastafarianism”. The data indicate that, 0% of respondents said NO and 100% of the respondents said YES.

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FIG4. Doughnuts showing the percentage answer to question 4.

The following information gathered revealed to the question that asks “If you think Rastafarianism should be classify as one of the major religion in the world?” The data indicate that 95% of the respondent said “NO” and 5% said “YES”.

Pg.14

Table Chart
FIG5. Table Chart showing the answers to question 5.

The following information gathered revealed to the last question which asks “Rastafarian believes that Haile Selassie will one day return and lead them to Africa origin to the promise land. Do you believe in such taught?” The data indicate that 90% of the respondent said “NO” and 10% said “YES”.

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Bibliography
My information was taken for the following websites: http://www.jamaicans.com/culture/rasta/ganja.shtml http://www.shaka.mistral.co.uk/rasta.htm http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rastafari_movement Pg.22

Conclusion

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